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Class of 2000 Holds Ring Premiere, Reveals Hidden Images in Brass Rat

By Douglas E. Heimburger
News Editor

The Class of 2000's Brass Rat, which features a straightforward design compared to years past, premiered in a well-attended ceremony in Walker Memorial.

This year's ring simplifies many of the features found on rings of previous years and also features a "more realistic" beaver, said Nicole A. Balli '00, who chaired the ring committee.

The class ring committee, which has been meeting since early fall, decided that the ring will be manufactured by Artcarved, a division of Commemorative Brands International, said Lex Nemzer '00, vice-chair of the committee. The decision was "based mostly on the design process" and not on the relative costs of the companies.

Representatives of Artcarved will be in Lobby 10 this week to take orders from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.. The cost of the gold rings ranges from a minimum of $174 to $422. Rings will be delivered during the first week of May, said William Johnson, a sales representative with Artcarved.

Hidden messages in ring

The front of this year's ring bore the traditional beaver perched on a piece of wood and a column symbolic of the entrances to the Institute.

Several hidden messages have similar symbolic meanings. Trees behind the beaver signify the natural environment of the beaver. A dead fish floating in water behind the beaver signifies the demise of the fishbowl Athena cluster last year.

Much of the interpretation of this year's ring is left up to the wearer. The sun, for example, is deliberately designed to be either rising or falling, reflecting the nocturnal nature of MITstudents.

The sides of the ring are traditional, yet feature new looks at the Institute. The class side features the Great Dome viewed from a new aerial perspective. Snowflakes above the dome reflect the snowy winters common in Boston, and especially last year's April Fool's storm.

The seal side is dominated by the letters "MIT" along with the traditional "Mens and Manus." Beneath the characters are a globe, centered on Boston.

Both the Boston and the Cambridge skylines are more realistic this year than in previous years. The Boston skyline features the Longfellow Bridge along with its traditional features, while the Cambridge skyline features the Harvard Bridge, complete with the traditional Smoot markings

Rings expected to be in demand

Each year, the ring committee considers several companies and eventually chooses one which will make that particular year's Brass Rat. As a result, the rings are often more inexpensively priced than those at other schools, since fluctuations in the price of gold can change the price, Johnson said.

The Brass Rat is "our largest ring account,"Johnson added, noting that up to 90 percent of the class will purchase a class ring before graduation. Companies traditionally vie for the MIT account because of its prestige.

Once the company was chosen in October, die cutters from Artcarved work with the ring committee to design the Brass Rat. "The artist came up and met with them several times,"Johnson said.

Because of the volume of the initial MITorder, the entire Artcarved factory shuts down to process the order, Johnson said. At most other schools, students order a class ring at their leisure through a college bookstore.

The ring is "very unique probably the most unique ring in the country,"Johnson said. "There is no question that this ring is from MIT."

Students react favorably to ring

Most students at the ring ceremony reacted favorably to this year's design. It has"the hidden things that we'll appreciate now" as well as the features that classmates will appreciate after their graduation, saidBani M. Azari '00.

"People seem really excited,"Balli said. "Everybody has been talking about ordering on Monday."